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How to use a smart meter in your home

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With the growing pressure to manage our energy consumption more effectively, more and more of us are making the switch to smart meters.

They can be a great way to track your spending, find ways to reduce your bills and notice bad energy habits. However, navigating this new technology can be difficult for some, that’s why we’ve created this handy guide to using a smart meter in your home.

What is a smart meter?

Lady Checks Energy Consumption On Smart Meter

A smart meter is the next generation in gas and electricity monitoring. It measures how much gas and electricity you use while displaying what it’s costing you through a handy in-home display. 

How do they work?

With a smart meter you can say goodbye to estimated bills. The smart meter system consists of two parts. The first is the meter itself, this replaces your traditional gas and electricity meters and shows a digital reading of your energy consumption. The meter uses a secure smart data network to send the readings to your energy supplier at least once a month so you can receive an accurate billing. 

The second device in the smart meter system is the in-home display screen (IHD). This portable device shows you am exact digital reading of how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence.

How to read your In-Home Display

Smart Meter

Your in-home display (IHD) is a portable device that can sit anywhere in your home. It communicates with your smart meter to show you exactly how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence. 

Several settings on your IHD allow you to view your usage by day, week or month. These accurate energy readings make it easier to track your bills and identify potential peak times, devices and habits that may be costing you dearly. 

Now, not all IHDs will look the same. Depending on your energy provider, the design of your device and its format can differ greatly from others. However, all IHDs allow you to access real-time readings of your energy usage. 

Some providers also offer more accessible models, with larger buttons or audio support, so those with dexterity issues or the visually impaired can still gain accurate meter readings from the comfort of their home. 

What will your In Home Display show?

Adjusting Thermostat To Reduce Energy Bills

Your IHD will display whether you’re on a prepay or credit tariff with your energy provider, which affects the information you receive from your display in the following ways:

If you have a smart meter in credit mode, it could show you the following information, depending on the IHD type provided by your energy provider:

  • the time
  • battery charge status
  • signal strength
  • your electricity and/or gas consumption in kilowatt-hours (kWh), and pounds and pence
  • your daily, weekly or monthly electricity and/or gas consumption
  • your historic energy consumption up to a rolling 13-month cycle
  • energy usage light indicators, which could include usage being visualised as low (green), medium (amber), or high (red), but will depend on the type of in-home display you have
  • your tariff price.

If you have a prepay meter, your in-home display could also display the following information depending on your model provided by your supplier: 

  • your smart meter credit balance
  • low credit alert
  • emergency credit balance if this is activated
  • any debt.

How can the in Home Display help you reduce your energy usage?

Money Being Put Into Piggy Bank

Your IHD provides you with real time data on your energy usage. You can use this information to help you make more informed decisions about your energy usage, allowing you to:

See exactly what you’re spending in pounds and pence

Your IHD allows you to check your data for your gas and / or electricity usage in a simple monetary format, in kilowatt hours (kWh), and even combine both gas and electric usage to gain a general kWh rate. This can help you regulate your spending and identify ways of reducing your bills.

Monitor whether your electricity use is high, medium or low, and how much it’s costing 

As mentioned before, IHD can vary in design depending on your energy provider. However, most show real time energy usage in a traffic light system – red for high, amber for moderate, and green for low. This colour system can make it easier to identify times of high energy use and particular appliances that rack up your energy bills.

Control various settings, which allow you to view your energy usage by the hour, per week or per month.

All In Home Displays allow you to view what you’ve spend over time, allowing you to track when you're spending more money than usual. They can also show historic consumption whether that be within daily, weekly, monthly or a 13-month rolling cycle. 

Some smart meters even show your energy usage in a handy graph, displaying your usage over time, so you can see the peaks and troughs of use. 

How can the in-home display help prepay Customers reduce their energy usage?

If you’re on a prepay tariff and own a smart meter, your IHD will provide information to help you reduce your energy usage and save money. These helpful tips include:

You can view your energy consumption and remaining credit

When your IHD is in prepay mode it tells you your balance in pounds and pence, so you can see your energy consumption in an easy-to-measure way. You can use this information to figure out which appliances are using the most energy and potentially adjust your habits accordingly.

You can see when your credit is low

Your IHD will also display a low credit alert if you’ve fallen below a low threshold. With this alert, you can enter your emergency credit to combat any energy cuts. This feature gives you visibility over your credit and helps you plan better.


I want to install a smart meter, do I need permission from Places for People? 

No. If you live in a Places for People property, you don’t need our permission to install a smart meter in your home. You can contact your energy provider directly to talk through your options and set a time and date for installation. 

If I move home, do I leave my in-home display behind? 

Yes. Your in-home display only works with the smart meter it is securely paired with. If you’re moving home, please leave your IHD at your previous property so the new household can benefit from its energy-saving support. 

My IHD is broken. What should I do? 

If your IHD is broken, contact your energy supplier. If you’ve had the display for less than 12 months and is no longer working like it should be, your supplier should replace it free of charge. However, if there’s evidence that the damage has been caused by you, your supplier may consider charging you for a replacement. 

I’ve just moved into a new home, there's a smart meter but no IHD. What should I do?

You’ll need to contact your smart meter supplier, as they are in the best position to inform you of the options available to you to replace your IHD. Thankfully, this won’t involve replacing your smart meter, only the IHD that then will need to be paired with the existing meter.